LEGOS, poetry and other DEVO fun

<br> “Heartfelt”


LEtsGO to Redding! Time once again for my semi-annual shout out to my hometown of Sundial Bridge, Calif., and its embarrassment of arts riches. When I was growing up there, the most significant art event was the installation of the winter wonderland display inside the Mt. Shasta Mall at Christmas, but now, thanks in very large part to the McConnell Foundation (I feel like a public radio DJ), the riverside Turtle Bay Exploration Park campus regularly hosts the likes of, oh let’s see, Andy Warhol! and … Jackson Pollock! (Works by both were on display during the just-closed Guild Hall: An Adventure in the Arts exhibit.) There’s also, in the compound’s McConnell Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, my favorite Nor Cal piece of art, “The Lookout Tree,” the massive stick sculpture by environmental artist Patrick Dougherty, and of course the indomitable Sundial Bridge by internationally renowned Spanish architect/sculptor Santiago Calatrava. (Chico needs a sugar daddy!)

And this week at Turtle Bay, artist Nathan Sawaya will introduce his upcoming exhibit, Art of the Brick, featuring sculptures made from tiny LEGO bricks, with a demo featuring him creating a custom piece all day long Saturday, May 16, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (exhibit runs through Jan. 3, 2010).

OK, so maybe LEGO sculptures are actually more holiday diorama than 20th-century masterpiece, and maybe the sculptures do look kind of like blurry, over-pixilated versions of what they’re modeled after, but c’mon … it’s LEGOs! And, Sawaya seems like a cool guy—when he visited the Colbert Report, he showed up with a life-sized version of the host! He also helped the Mythbusters build a giant LEGO boulder that disintegrated as they rolled it down a hill.

<br /> Lego DEVO

See all of his sculptures and projects at (And while you’re in the LEGO mood, do like Arts DEVO done, and visit and make a plastic, blocky, version of yourself with the Mini-Mizer.)

Words Is it possible that “a rope could swing us/ long and light across a widening trough/ of all that fails us in our lives”? According to the press release announcing the upcoming Chico visit of Los Angeles poet James Ragan, this is the question that opens his newest book of poetry, Too Long a Solitude. It’s a clue to the construction of the former director of USC’s Graduate Writing Program’s latest collection, where he’s venturing to far-flung locales—from equatorial jungles to Arctic icebergs—to journey into isolation and loneliness, then swing back to find human connections.

I haven’t seen a copy of the book yet, but Ragan will be promoting it while reading at Café Coda Tuesday, May 19, 8 p.m. He’ll also be joined by one of his former graduate students, “neo-cowboy poet/blues-rock drummer” Beau Hamel (aka UC Davis professor Brad Henderson).

Bonne chance! I forgot to say goodbye (probably because I’m in denial) to office-mate Christy Pryde, who last week left the part-time confines of the CN&R calendar editor position for greener pastures. Thanks for kicking so much ass and keeping things really really (really) organized.

<br /> Curly dippers


Homegrown Music Festival: Butte Folk Music Society’s day-long local fest, featuring Gordy Ohliger and Friends, The Pub Scouts, Mudcreek Kenny & The Stump Jumpers and many more, goes down this Saturday, May 16, noon-10 p.m., at the Chico Grange Hall.

Gourd Art Festival and Gourd Sale: Greg Leiser Farms down in Knights Landing is hosting a weekend full of nothing but gourds—gourd art displays, gourd art classes and lots and lots of gourds for sale. Saturday and Sunday, May 16-17, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Visit for info.